JMA and KSL have big time development plans lined up for Homewood and Squaw. Will adding more beds bolster business during the slow season or during the whole season?

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JMA (Homewood) & KSL (Squaw Valley) Share a Vision of Development | Nope, Not Talking About Alpine Meadows Here... Yet

Ampitheater and back of hotel, North Base HMR, artist rendering: (skihomewood.com)

Ampitheater and back of hotel, North Base HMR, artist rendering: (skihomewood.com)

JMA and KSL have big time development plans lined up for Homewood and Squaw. Will adding more beds bolster business during the slow season or during the whole season?

If you’re on Unofficial reading an article titled  “JMA & KSL Share a Vision of Development” I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume you’ve already heard a thing or two about the major development proposals that JMA Ventures and KSL Capital Partners have in the queue for both Homewood Mountain Resort and Squaw Valley USA respectively. One thing I’m not as sure about is how these developments are going to influence the crowds and operations at the two resorts.

Both developers appear to have the same goal and business model. The idea being that by adding beds, i.e. condos, hotels, and the like, JMA and KSL will be able to attract greater numbers of destination travelers who will stay for several days on a given visit as opposed to one day, hopefully boosting business during the off times (midweek and slow seasons) without having an appreciable impact on operations during the conventional busy times (holidays and weekends).

kt lift line, stormday

Last Thursday at a the North Tahoe Regional Advisory Council meeting, Art Chapman, Chairman of JMA Ventures LLC, presented his case for the necessity of growth and development in no uncertain terms. Chapman stated basically that revenues at Homewood Mountain Resort do not cover operational costs and that HMR must develop or the ski resort will close. The skier days per year for Homewood have been capped at around 100,000 for the last several years and unless that number grows the business is unsustainable. HMR is in the red roughly $5 million in operational costs over the last 6 years. That does not even take into account the $7 million already spent by JMA in capital improvements ($12 million total).

According to Chapman the crux of HMR’s problem is that Homewood just isn’t able to entice day skiers to drive the extra 30 minutes to ski when resorts like Squaw, Alpine, and Sugar Bowl are closer and offer equivalent or better skiing experiences. On the busiest weekends, Homewood can top out at around 3,000 skiers, but the average weekday drops to only 300 skiers per day. Weekend crowds at Homewood can create a mess of traffic on the West Shore and in the liftlines. HMR proposes to reduce the average weekend to 700 skiers per day and up the average weekday to 4oo skiers per day.

Homewood-Ski-Resort

Homewood crowds (image: skihomewood.com)

KSL and Squaw Valley are planning to add a host of beds as well.

In August, KSL submitted a pre-development application to Placer County for an all-season resort that would include around 1,200 units (3,800 bedrooms), which would be a mixture of residential, hotel, time-shares, and condos. The 1,200 additional units are allowed under the Squaw Valley General Plan.

“We need more critical mass for bed base,” said Chevis Hose, vice president of development for KSL. “We got a great mountain, but it’s not supported by a village. The village is not financially sustainable.”

Currently, there are 300 rooms in the village and 53,000 square feet of commercial space. Hose said that the original developers, Intrawest, built a disproportionate amount of commercial square footage compared to bed base.

Melissa Siig/Moonshine Ink

JMA’s final EIR/EIS amendments for the Homewood development are up for approval by the Placer County Planning Commission today (Oct. 18). HMR and JMA are well on their way to breaking ground. KSL’s plans for village expansion are still in the pre-development phase. KSL has the advantage of working off of Intrawest’s previous proposals for a phase III and IV development of the village at Squaw but they still might run into some issues with water availability. Unofficialnetworks reported on the issue of KSL’s pre-development application back in September (link to article). Additional information can also be found in the recent Moonshine Inc article here.

village at squaw

Rendering, Village at Squaw showing additional Intrawest phase developments

Both JMA and KSL’s development proposals sound fairly similar. Each argue that existing business models are unsustainable and that adding beds will improve business during the slack times. Both groups also suggest that operations will not become too crowded during peak periods. I’m not wholly convinced. Slow times like Spring, Fall, and weekdays have historically been slow for a lot of reasons outside of the control of resorts. The bed capacity in Squaw and the Tahoe region at large is not always maxed out during the slow season. What insures that adding more beds will draw the crowds?

What do you think? Are we going to see a smoothing of the visitor curve over the days and seasons as a result of added capacity or is it gonna be the same old bipolar ghost town to clusterf%#k distribution?

Be sure to watch “The Lost People of Mountain City” in the adjacent post on the Unofficialnetworks webpage.

 

61 comments
  • brad

    Squaw is drawing more people with cheap passes and stealing skiers/boarders from the other Tahoe resorts to buy passes there. Back in the day, you’d get the Sierra/Northstar pass if you were thrifty. All those peeps buy Squaw passes nowadays. It’s not like the pie is increasing in this unbelievably shitty economy. Good luck, JMA and KSL! Can’t wait to sneak some turns down whitewolf.

  • Asquawnamous

    HMR’s numbers make no sense… 700*2 +5*400=3400 skiers per week vs. 3000*2+300*5=7500. Even if Sunday is considered a weekday it still doesn’t make any sense. In fact I cant see them turning things around keeping the weekend traffic #’s and adding 100 skiers per week day. Its gonna take a lot more then that…

    • John Parker

      My bad, I think Chapman was referring to the total weekend. I shouldn’t speculate too much here but I think the weekends might still see crowds and they may be expecting revenues from the added units and amenities.

    • Snow Devil

      I agree that developing Homewood is a dumb idea, but Homewood sucks? Your an idiot. What mountain never has wind hold, keeps fresh powder lines all over for days, has the best lake view of any hill around Tahoe, sweet tree runs and the best attitude.
      Sure the lifts are slow but sit down with someone new and have a good conversation. Sure the area is small in comparison to Squaw but the terrain is there if you know what to look for.
      JMA just needs to figure out how to make some money out of this amazing resort, I don’t think more beds will do this.

      • secretsecret

        Hey, don’t go trying to convince “dontbeakook” to ski homewood, he can keep the KT lift lines and base area shopping BS. Let us informed Tahoe skiers keep the untracked pow and chill vibes uncrowded :)

  • Tahoma!

    Can Homewood Village compete against Squaw/Alpine? Wait till White Wolf is sold and the new Alpine Village is put in on Troy’s buildable land. New base area only 1/2 way up the road. Also can Homewood stay open while the village is being built? Construction will take up limited parking options. This is going to be a strange time for the west shore. Glad it’s not my money or neck on the line. Just give Homewood some decent lifts and people may return. Skiers point of view, sorry. JMA stay in the BAY!

  • Steve

    Where do they get employees for the resorts? They have trouble with housekeeping numbers already and the shoulder seasons make it unattractive to work during summer and fall b/c restaurants pay more on the lake. I don’t think they have thought that out. How to hold and retain full, functional staff.

    • Anonymous

      It could be good…drive up wages to attract employees, restaurants have to respond in kind…maybe it’ll make living up there more realistic for the average Joe?

    • GregSki

      Maybe they’ll have to increase the wages they pay to attract employees, that’ll put upward pressure on wages in the area in general and perhaps make it more realistic for the average Joe to live up here. Not necessarily a bad thing eh?

    • Sinecure

      Part of the Homewood plan is to build a bunch of employee housing. That would be a welcome addition and help out both the resort and the employees.

  • Pingback: The Lost People of Mountain Village | A Short Documentary

  • Not a good call

    What about the parking of squaw if the village engulfs all that i will not allow them to pave more of the meadow…..there gunna have to tear squaw creek down or something to park that entire parking lot somewhere

  • Anonymous

    Well we’re for sure turning into Colorado. It seems to be a “one solution” world in the ski resort industry: “Hmm, business is down – Let’s build a village!” If this happens there will be an inevitable migration of locals out of the west shore.

    • douchee magoo

      Exactly right, following the same model as all the other conglomerates. The skiing experience be damned. These guys are alll about real estate. Parking? Can you say bussed in i.e. northstar or colorado (unless of course you want to pay to park close just so you can pay again to ski.) They build up these monstrosities then sell them off and move on the next resort. Greedy a holes! Think long term local effect! Not good my friends, not good.

      • Anonymous

        I hear what you guys are saying, but if they have been $5 mil in the red for 6 years, what are they gonna do. I’d rather they build up then shut down.

  • iheartsquaw

    There’s one thing i don’t get… if i travel to hawaii, then decide i want to change it up, and travel to fiji, i did that because there different. they have the same things i enjoy, surfing, beaches, warm water, fishing, but they look completely different, they also have completely different cultures. WHY is squaw, (witch ksl didn’t do, but could make it change) build the same village that every other ski resort has, they all look the same, whislter, winterpark, beavercreek, northstar, telluride, copper, etc. If KSL wants to build they should build and not be a follower, not build what every other ski resort has maybe use there degrees and come up with there own idea. something that blends in with the culture, squaws doesn’t fit in with the cookie cutter village. if you wanna make business and not have us locals throw a mutiny, come up with something better then a village.

  • Andy H

    JMA employing my favorite corporate business practice.

    Homewood a resort that is small not crowded and has been in business for quite some time. It seemed to work just fine for all those years. JMA buys it and then tries to extort the community by claiming that there is no way in hell they can keep the mountain open unless they are alowed to build what they want. Why was it a viable business for decades and then suddenly it doesn’t work. Perhaps JMA shouldn’t have bought it then?

    Unrealistic profit margins is what is killing this sport. I could open a ski shop and be succesful, make enough money to raise a family, but if it is my goal to be a multi-millionare I’m in the wrong business. Skiing can be a profitable business but if companies like JMA/KSL are looking for HUGE profits they need to get out of the ski industry. They just aren’t going to find what they are looking for, my fear is that they take the sport as a whole down with them.

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